Will Marijuana Get Advertising Agencies High?

Will Marijuana Get Advertising Agencies High?

Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 9.55.11 AMThis is an update to a post I wrote in July, 2015. I must admit that I was right then that marijuana will get advertising agencies high. High as in offering a brand new multi-billion dollar product category that needs agency services. All of them – product design, PR, PPC, SEM, website design, social media, print advertising and on and on. The reason for this update is the Newsweek article, Here are the businesses taking marijuana products into the mainstream”. Here is a bit from the article. I suggest that your savvy agency will figure out how to get on board this fast moving train.

“With roughly 22 million Americans consuming marijuana on a monthly basis in 2015 and nearly 37 million people admitting to using pot at least once a year, marijuana brands and companies are increasingly looking to reach new consumers with upscale products that go beyond weed’s reputation as an easy high for people who like to wear tie-dye shirts and listen to mellow music. The push is aimed at offering a greater variety of ways for people to consume cannabis, whether they are first-time users or people who may have smoked grass back in the day and are looking to ease back into the drug now that it is legal.

“If you look at what traditionally people think of when they think of a pot shop, they’re thinking of a place with Bob Marley posters in it. There’s nothing mainstream about that. That’s not how you sell anything, but for some reason, that’s how people think you sell pot. That’s got to evolve,” Adam Bierman, CEO and co-creator of MedMen, a California-based marijuana management firm, said during a phone interview.

The marijuana industry is now a $6.7 billion business, according to Forbes. Figures this high aren’t easily achieved, especially not with down-market products sold in cramped stores covered in marijuana symbols, Bierman said.”

FYI, the photo of the Bob Marley product above is from Portland’s Bridge City Collective, a two-shop business that I invested in two years ago. I saw the marijuana train coming down the track and got on board very early. I am including the photo because it is an excellent example of where marijuana industry branding is heading.

So, Will Marijuana Get Advertising Agencies High?

Washington i502 Marijuana SalesYes.

But, do not take my word for it. 502DATA is a website that reports on Washington State’s marijuana industry. Take a look at the sales numbers and… you tell me? Will marijuana get advertising agencies high? Um, drive advertising agency revenues higher? Seems logical.

Here are sales numbers for Washington’s producers, processors and retailers in today’s early-stage market. Then imagine that this is a national business that will inevitably experience consolidation.

But, for now just be amazed at the growth of a brand-new product and service category. A big one. Total 2015 Washington marijuana sales could go beyond $400,000,000 in 2015. 

One store in Vancouver, WA is running at $20 million in annual sales. Note: many of their customers drive into Washington from Portland, Oregon. Oregon approved recreational sales for anyone over 21 starting in October.

One processor could do over $10 million in the next 12 months.

Individual producers, not notoriously free with sales information are reporting monthy sales over $1 million.

Do the math.

Someday when the 23 states alone that currently have some form of legal marijuana sales (FYI: states like Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Colorado and D.C are fully legal)… total sales for these 23 states could exceed $10 billion. I know that some ad agencies and designers and publications and apps like Leafly and online websites or networks are already cashing in. Marketers have figured this out as well. Some of your favorite friends brands like Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix and Willie Nelson are already signed up. Miley Cyrus anyone? (Is there another Marley – Miley out there?)

Have you stopped the think this one through?










A couple of additional blog posts on this opportunity are right HERE.

No, I am not a stoner. But, I am an investor in this category and wonder why more advertising agencies are not investing some time exploring this rather large opportunity.

Last point. To help our advertising community, the Portland Advertising Federation recently held a standing room only Potland marijuana information event



One Comment

  1. Great points here Peter. We work with a handful of Marijuana companies here in Maine (now that it’s legal…and before the law passed also), and we service a few others out of the state. Ironically, when it comes to social media efforts their restrictions are the same as our firearms clients – no paid advertising, no graphic depictions that catch too many youthful eyes, and a general understanding that you better have a backup account to be ready to roll if Facebook/Twitter/Insta or whomever shuts you down.

    The advertising options on programs like Leafly or Weedmaps are quite interesting and I am excited that we’ve been working with so many caregivers and dispensaries – I think the industry will continue to boom and will soon be like those pioneers in the tobacco industry.

    In my opinion, the key for legitimization of this product is moving away from “Boobs and Bongs” to focusing on the product benefits and the fascinating culture around the industry. It is a “Green Rush” in the making and once advertising catches up I think the industry will only benefit.

    Thanks again for your insights.

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